Sunderland Football Club and LGBT rights group are joining to campaign for acceptance in sport.
This weekend Sunderland AFC and Stonewall are campaigning to make sport’s everyone game as part of rainbow’s laces week. The Premier League is showing their support for the campaign at every fixture this weekend. At every match they will be supporting Rainbow Laces messaging and every game will be opened with a giant Premier League Rainbow Laces flag.
Sunderland footballer John O’Shea said: “Football provides a great platform to educate and inform people. There is no place for discrimination of any kind in society and through the popularity of our sport, we can help to promote the positive message of inclusion.” The full Team Pride will also be taking part this weekend including Manchester United, Pitch Marketing Group, the Premier League, O2, Sky Sports and Visa as well as founding members Adidas, Aon and Aviva.
As part of this Rainbow Laces week, Pitch Marketing Group has produced a campaign film for Stonewall. It shows LGBT athletes explaining the effect that discriminatory language has on sportspeople. The video has British canoeing champion Matt Lister, Sophie Cook and former England and Team GB women’s football captain Casey Stoney, as well as coaches, fans and players – all of whom identify as lesbian, bi, gay or trans.
Early this year Stonewall released new research conducted by ICM into LGBT attitudes and experiences among sports fans. Released in September, it showed that 72 per cent of fans have heard homophobic abuse at sports matches. However the majority of sports fans supported and welcomed LGBT fans and players. Almost two thirds (63 per cent) saying more should be done to make LGBT people feel accepted in sport.
Ruth Hunt, Chief Executive of Stonewall, said: ‘We’re pleased that such powerful organisations have stepped up and given their support to our Rainbow Laces campaign, and now we urge more organisations to become part of our team. Sport should be everyone’s game but unfortunately there is a persistent minority who think it’s ok to make offensive remarks or join in with chants that make fans and players feel unsafe and unwelcome.
We all have a responsibility to show that sport is for everyone.’